Mealworms have been approved for consumption in the EU
Bored of typical German food? Looking for an environmentally-friendly, high-protein snack? Well, look no further! Mealworms have become the first insect to be officially approved as food in the EU.
Your new favourite insect snack
The yellow mealworm is now the first insect to be approved for human consumption in the EU, after member states agreed to a proposal from the European Commission, Now, we know what you’re thinking: “Worms aren’t insects!” Well, the yellow mealworm is actually the larval form of the mealworm beetle, or the Tenebrio Molitor, to give it its Latin name. The worm-like larvae were examined by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and declared safe for consumption.
However, before you run out to get some wriggly treats, the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety has warned that eating yellow mealworms could “lead to allergic reactions in sensitive people.” Allergy information can therefore be found on the product.
Mealworm larvae can be sold for consumption either as a whole snack or as an ingredient. According to the EU commission, yellow mealworms can be used as a powdered ingredient in pasta products or biscuits, for example. However, as an ingredient, it can only make up 10 percent of the product.
An environmentally friendly protein snack
Now that the EU states have approved the European Commission’s approval, a formal decision is to be made in the coming weeks. The approval will only be valid for a French company, which made the application, meaning it will be able to sell the mealworms on its own for five years. After five years, other companies will be able to market and sell the larvae.
Due to their low environmental impact, mealworms have been touted to contribute to a more sustainable food supply in the EU. Insect products, or foods containing insect products, are not outright banned in the EU, although it remains a small market. The EFSA has said that there are currently risk assessments ready to be undertaken for 14 other insect products.